A resident of West Hollywood’s Eastside, assaulted this week by a man trying to repossess his car, says that local Sheriff’s deputies refused to arrest the man for the assault and were dismissive when he complained about it.
Brian Doyle, who lives at 1210 Formosa Ave. near Lexington, said that this past Tuesday around 11 p.m. he heard his car alarm go off while he was sitting in his apartment.
Doyle said he went to the car and saw two men, one getting into the car. That man, Doyle said, told him he was repossessing the car. Doyle objected, saying he hadn’t receiving any warning of repossession. At that point, he said, the man said, “What are you going to do about it faggot? Come on homo, what are you going to do?”
Doyle, who is gay, said he pushed the man, who responded by pulling out an iron bar and hitting Doyle in the head, leaving him bleeding from a wound that required seven stitches. Doyle said he passed out briefly then recovered and was able to dial 911. Eight deputies from the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station quickly arrived, he said, but they refused to arrest the man for assaulting him.
“After they found out it was about repossessing my car they said I should have made my car payment,” said Doyle, who acknowledged that he is one payment behind.
The deputies allowed the men to take the car and left the scene. Doyle said that a man visiting a neighbor who saw the attack called the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station to offer himself as a witness. “He said that when he contacted the Sheriff’s station they said they didn’t need his statement, and it was none of his business, and they hung up on him,” Doyle said.
Dylan Baer, a friend of Doyle’s who was alerted by him to the incident, quickly went to Doyle’s home where the deputies were gathered and Doyle was being treated by a paramedic. “There was blood everywhere,” Baer said. “On the side of the gate, there was blood on his door because he attempted to go inside. His hands were all scraped up, his knees were all scrapped up. We’re talking about a six foot man. I’ve never seen him shaken up like that.”
Baer said he overheard several of the deputies on the scene discussing the incident as an assault. But, he said, one by one they got in their cars and left the scene without arresting the man who had assaulted Doyle.
“I am so furious and disgusted,” Doyle said. Citing the Tuesday incident and an apparent increase in homeless people on the Eastside that other residents have complained about, Doyle said, “I don’t feel safe.”
Lt. David Smith of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station confirmed that deputies had responded to the incident. Smith said a report filed by a deputy who responded is being turned over detectives to investigate. Smith said the report did not indicate that Doyle had been assaulted by an iron bar.
This incident is the latest in a number of similar complaints that Sheriff’s deputies have been uninterested or dismissive when local assaults are reported. Two other complainants have been willing to discuss such incidents publicly with WEHOville. In August, Larry Workman, who lives on Hancock Avenue, discovered a hooded man carrying an ice pick inside his home at night. The man, who turned out to be Randy Tullis, Workman’s former spouse, had splashed blood red paint across the facade of the house. Workman screamed and a neighbor called 911. When Sheriff’s deputies arrived, Workman said, they charged his ex-spouse with felony vandalism. They refused to charge Tullis with the more serious crime of felony assault despite testimony from two neighbors that the man had lunged at them with the ice pick. Workman has told the city’s Public Safety Commission that he lives in fear of another attack because Tullis was released from custody after posting a small bond of $20,000. The West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station has said it is looking into its handling of the incident.
In May, Jason Schirle said he and a friend were assaulted in front of the carwash on the 8700 block of Santa Monica Boulevard around 2:30 a.m. one night . “I was thinking it was a joke,” Schirle said. “I turned around, and the minute I turned I was hit with a sucker punch. The next thing I knew there were two guys in front of me, one holding my arm down. The guy who had been hitting me began kicking me. The other guy went for my friend.”
“A few hits to the face, a few kicks to the ribs. I missed a few days at work,” Schirle said. “My friend got hit in the face pretty bad, but my impression is I got the worst of it.” Schirle said his friend did not want to be identified.
Schirle said he walked to the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station to report the attack and was met with “ambivalence” by the desk clerk. “I was kind of surprised I was met with a lot of ambivalence … I just kind of met with ‘what are you all about?’ ‘Why didn’t you call us?’ I was kind of met with this attitude of I was doing something wrong.”
The City of West Hollywood has an $18 million contract with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department to provide public safety services. Until recently, however, there has been little transparency about the amount of crime in the city and the steps the Sheriff’s station takes to address it and complaints that some apparent crimes are not reported. The city continues to promote itself as a “safe place to visit, live and work” despite an L.A. County Sheriff’s Department report that shows the rate of violent and property crimes reported in West Hollywood last year topped that of the nearly two dozen areas it serves. For example, West Hollywood’s 2014 reported crime rate was 98 percent higher than that of the department’s South Los Angeles Station and 38 percent higher than that of its Compton Station.
A report being presented to the City Council at its meeting on Monday also states “the City continues to be a very safe place to live, visit, and work” and says the ” West Hollywood Station has some of the lowest crime statistics out of all twenty-four Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Stations.” However the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department’s report on serious crime through July 31 of this year contradicts that. The report shows that West Hollywood ranks fourth among other areas served by the department in robberies and larceny, fifth in aggravated assault and seventh in burglaries. The report did note, however, that serious crimes in West Hollywood were down one percent compared to the first seven months of 2014 and down 3.3 percent from the same period in 2010. The city experienced only one murder. Lt. Sergio Aloma of the Sheriff’s station told WEHOville that the report’s statement that “West Hollywood Station has some of the lowest crime statistics out of all twenty-four Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Stations,” was a reference to WeHo’s low rate of increase in crime year over year and not to the actual number of crimes relative to its population.
Representatives of the Sheriff’s Station and some City Council members also have said West Hollywood’s high ranking for serious crimes is based on the number of crimes per 10,000 residents and thus doesn’t take into account the fact that the city’s nightlife draws thousands of visitors. Others, however, have noted that whether car break-ins or assaults are done by a visitor or resident, they still put residents at risk. Reports of the crimes also have resulted in posts on WEHOville.com and on Facebook by gay men who say they are afraid to come to West Hollywood.